“Can you think like a (insert job title here)?”

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

Clockwise from the left: Graduation day celebrating with Chara, Road Trip with Club Ice Hockey at UVM, and me now

This guest post for the 5 Alums, 5 Years Later series was written by Jeff Donaldson. Jeff graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and is a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith.

In a world where we have everything at our finger tips, we often take for granted that accomplishments take time. Many of you reading this want to get right out into the “real-world” and make a difference in your field. I want to let you know that “YOU ARE READY”! Co-op definitely prepared all of us for what it is like to hold a job, get to work on time, and begin to feel what responsibility really is. But let’s take a step back and think about what the classroom environment prepared us for.   After all, that was a huge part of the $200k+ we paid, right?

I’m going to cut to the chase here (mostly because I am an engineer and writing isn’t a strong suit for many of us).  Looking back over the last five years, I can honestly say that about 90% of what I do at my job I did not learn in the classroom. Although I cannot speak for every major and degree, I am confident that many of you will agree with me.

Now before you go ask President Aoun for a refund, ask yourself if you feel confident in your ability to learn. Of course you do; you just graduated college. The ability to be a lifelong learner is something that will impact your professional success for the rest of your life, and that you did learn in the classroom.

You spent the better part of the last 5 years sitting in the lecture halls, doing homework, and studying for hours on end in Snell Library (read: procrastinating on Twitter and Facebook). You have recently passed your last finals (assuming graduate school isn’t in your future life) and received the Bachelor of Blank in Blank you’ve worked so hard for. Officially, you are extremely knowledgeable of said subject matter.

So, next question: Can you think like a/an (insert new job title here)?  Many of you will probably say, “Hmmm, I don’t really know what that means. What does it mean to think like a/an (insert new job title here)?”

The day has come to officially apply all of that college knowledge to a full-time professional position. My advice is: be confident in your ability, even if you don’t know something at your new job. Know that you possess the tools to give the assigned tasks a try (trust me, your boss will take notice and reward you for it). All of your course work has trained you to respond, read, prepare, and talk like a professional. This is so important to realize NOW as you graduate and take the first steps in your career.

That said, please be careful not to be over confident.  Understand you have the tools to be successful, but that success takes time. Learning how to apply what you’ve learned and to continue to be a lifelong learner goes a long way. Coupled with patience and hard work, you’re sure to be a success.

So, good luck, congratulations, and may you all have great success in the next chapter of your lives.

YOU ARE READY!

Jeff Donaldson graduated Cum Laude in 2009 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He is currently a Lead Electrical Engineer at CDM Smith, a Consulting and Design Engineering firm in Cambridge and a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also founded the Northeastern Men’s Ice Hockey Club Team in 2005. Please feel free to contact him at donaldson.jeff@gmail.com.

Print Isn’t Dead

source: www.mediamill.tt

source: www.mediamill.tt

This guest post for The Works was written by Erica Thompson, a recent journalism graduate from NU who is currently working as a Copy Editor at the Boston Globe.

“Print is dead,” said my journalism professor in our first lecture freshman year. “Get out while you can.”

The harsh advice wasn’t exactly how I planned to start my five years at Northeastern, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave a lasting impression. While print media has taken a serious hit in our primarily digital world, I’ve discovered that calling the newspaper industry “dead” is nothing but a hasty generalization.

So despite the discouraging words, I stuck with journalism, as I encourage those currently in the major to do, too. It’s tough, undoubtedly. Finding sources to contact and explaining yourself as a “student” journalist isn’t like writing a 10-page research paper or studying for an accounting exam; it’s a different kind of mental discipline.

But it was worth every 3 a.m. haze in Snell, every moment of panic that I didn’t credit a source correctly, and every snippy critique from a fellow student—not just because it made me a stronger writer (and person), but because I, along with most of my former classmates, got a job after graduation.

source: fyeahjournalismmajorcamel.tumblr.com

source: fyeahjournalismmajorcamel.tumblr.com

And it wasn’t by happenstance. I graduated Northeastern in May 2013 and, like many other journalism majors, completed three co-ops that really set the stage for my job search. While co-op provided me (as I’m sure it did for others) with experience, writing clips, and the day-to-day skills necessary to be successful in a job, the connections I made and the networking that took place during co-op were an equally large component to successfully landing interviews and actually getting a job offer.

Without a doubt, the journalism industry has definitely seen a struggle, and the number of jobs is not as high as a field like business or nursing. But as a Northeastern alumnus, having contacts through co-op is the key to getting your foot in the door.

The notion of “co-op connections” is something I only came to appreciate after I graduated, and something I wish I had been more conscious of while working. As much as the co-op department stresses the idea of networking, work becomes routine and it’s easy to forget that in six months, you won’t be sitting at that same desk, with those same people.

But being able to reach out to former colleagues, especially in a competitive field like journalism, is the difference between sending your resume into the black abyss of Mediabistro, and obtaining the direct e-mail of the hiring manager for a certain position. And, most importantly, the connections made on co-op extend beyond just the company you’ve worked for. It’s the connections current employees have with other companies, which opens up double, if not triple, the doors for post-grads.

Treasure that. It’s the most unique part of being a Husky, particularly in the field of journalism. And don’t give up on the industry. Just because it’s changing doesn’t mean it’s dead.

Erica Thompson graduated from Northeastern in May 2013 as a journalism major with a minor in public policy. She currently works as a Copy Editor at The Boston Globe, where she co-oped twice. She can be reached at erica.thompson@globe.com or on Twitter, @EricaThompson_

The DOs and DON’Ts of working in the professional world

This post was written by 2012 alum Michele Richinick who is now a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City as a guest post for The Works.

Let’s face it: there are certain actions and behaviors you should and should not exhibit in the workplace. But some people just don’t know right from wrong.

1-first-job davidrjolly

Source: davidrjolly.wordpress.com

I completed three co-ops at Northeastern and have been working in New York City for the duration of my post-grad life since Commencement in May 2012. But I have been learning about the professional world since December 2008 when I began my first co-op.

I polled a few friends (most are fellow Huskies) and coworkers, and this is a compilation of our advice. I’m not saying we experienced all of the following events, but we definitely witnessed them in our respective workplaces throughout the country:

 

The Don’ts:

1. Don’t “Reply All” to an email chain. Understand the differences—and repercussions—between “Reply” and “Reply All” to avoid humiliation.

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone? Source: online.wsj.com

Did you really want your thoughts on the meeting going to everyone?
Source: online.wsj.com

2. Don’t have a personal conversation at your desk. Find a conference room to discuss your after-work issues that you must have with your best friend, sister, significant other, or landlord (or anyone who isn’t related to work, actually).

3. Don’t bring your personal emotions into the office. Your desk neighbor doesn’t want to hear your sob story from the weekend, so leave that at the door.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, despite how silly you think they seem. This way, you will avoid erroneously completing an entire project only to realize you did it all wrong.

5. Don’t gossip about fellow coworkers…or your boss. You’re not hurting anyone but yourself when you do. Better yet, don’t be so intolerable that people gossip about you.

6. Do not insert emoticons or multiple exclamation points (if any) into work emails. Despite how relaxed your superiors might act, always be professional.

7. Do not wear weekend attire to the office. Save the crop tops, flip-flops, and see-through shirts for the weekend. No one will take you seriously if you don’t.

8. Don’t apply for a job you don’t want. It will be a waste of time for both parties if you meet the employer for an interview and initially know you will decline the position.

9. Don’t talk back to your boss, even if there isn’t much of an age difference between you two. Hopefully you will have the chance to climb the career ladder someday. You will want people to respect you then, right?

10. Don’t forget that at work socials, you’re still at work. Be careful not to overdo it if alcohol is being served, everyone will know why you “called in sick” the next day.

11. Don’t be nervous, but also don’t overstep your boundaries. You should express your opinions, but keep them G-rated.

12. Don’t forget an umbrella. Sitting in wet clothes all day is not fun. Keeping a pair of shoes under your desk also proves helpful.

The Do’s:

1. Do arrive early. You will be remembered for answering your phone at 8:01 a.m. in a world where tardiness is common…especially in cities.

2. Do network with people outside of your cubicle. A perk of having a job at a company you appreciate is meeting other people with similar interests who share advice from their past experiences.

3. Do be willing to engage a coworker who asks for your help. Use the opportunity to stand out and share the knowledge you learned as a Husky. Don’t be annoyed by their questions.

4. Do bring in goodies. Who doesn’t love to eat? If you have free time one night, bake cookies or brownies and bring them to work. Everyone will love you.

5. Do create a proper personal email address. Depending on your profession, you will most likely have to correspond with your coworkers after work and on weekends. Replace foxychick123 with a professional username, such as your first initial and last name.

6. Do jump at the chance to complete a new task. Your coworkers likely gave it to you because they have confidence in your abilities, not because they have time to dish out so-called busy work.

7. Do be flexible. Sometimes a project calls for earlier or later hours; be OK with adjusting your schedule accordingly.

8. Do work on holidays. This might not be an issue for every profession. But if it is, you will be rewarded in the long-run for missing the family barbecue on Memorial Day. Did you really want to see Uncle Henry anyway?

9. Do keep an eye on your personal budget. Just because you have an income now

Gotta love some 2 Chainz Source: Elitedaily.com

Gotta love some 2 Chainz
Source: Elitedaily.com

doesn’t mean you should make it rain all in one place. Invest in your future.

10. Do make sure your ear buds are plugged in securely to your computer. Your coworkers don’t want to hear lyrics streaming from your 2 Chainz Pandora station.

11. Do be open-minded. In your work and in your communications.

And finally…
12. Do always wear a smile. Having a positive attitude about being at work will affect your job performance…significantly.

Michele Richinick graduated from Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media and Design in May 2012 with a journalism degree. She now works as a digital reporter for MSNBC.com in New York City. Check out her MSNBC.com author page http://tv.msnbc.com/author/michelecrichinick/  and Tweet her at @mrich1201.